By Aaron Dykes and Melissa Melton on January 9, 2014
Pesticides are made to kill things. People who don’t want to eat pesticides often choose organic foods to avoid them. But does that really make sense?
… Well yeah, it kind of does. Duh.
The public has been repeatedly given the impression that “organic” foods are essentially no different than conventional or genetically modified foods.
Many of those promoting that perception are obviously interested in maintaining public confidence in the existing food system, including ingredient lists dominated by GM corn and soy staples and grocery stores made possible by heavy applications of pesticides.
A 2012 Stanford study claimed that there was no evidence that organic foods were any better for you, and the Academy of Pediatrics followed suit with recommendations that organic was no better for children. “…The needed long-term studies do not yet exist to show that eating pesticide-free food makes people healthier,” said Joel Forman, an associate professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital and co-author of the Pediatrics report.
But do we really need a long term study just to decide whether or not we should eat regular doses of pesticides with our breakfast, lunch and dinner?
The impact of pesticides in growing your food – which isn’t allowed in certified organic crops – provides more than enough reason to consider avoiding as much GMO and conventional food products as possible. But of course, it is your choice!
Here’s a look at just how many pesticides are used in growing typical crops – like the soybeans used in this chart – by ordinary farmers, depending upon which cultivation method they ascribe to (GMO with Roundup Ready soy; conventional soy; organic soy):
Pesticide Residues in Conventional vs. Organic Produce
Scientists have tracked pesticide residue samples collected from produce sold in grocery stores over many years – analyzing data sets from the USDA, California’s Dept. of Pesticide Regulation and the Consumers Union – and determined that organic produce has, on average, one third of the pesticide residue levels as compared with conventional produce, while the latter often has traces of multiple pesticides. The worst offenders showed residues from 14 types of pesticides; don’t forget that these toxic agents are also taken up by the plant and may be expressed inside foods as well.